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GlaxoSmithKline wins contract for papillomavirus vaccine in UK

GlaxoSmithKline has been awarded the UK contract to provide a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), the Department of Health has announced. However, some charities have criticised the choice because GSK’s Cervarix — unlike its rival Gardasil — does not protect against genital warts.

Cervarix targets HPV types 16 and 18, which are responsible for about 70 per cent of cervical cancers, but Gardasil provides additional protection against virus types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts.

Commenting on the decision, Julie Bentley, chief executive of the fpa, said: “While we of course welcome the introduction of a nationwide vaccine programme to prevent cervical cancer, we are disappointed that the Department of Health has missed a huge opportunity to protect an entire generation of young women against genital warts by not choosing Gardasil vaccine.

“Genital warts is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK after chlamydia. Selecting Gardasil would have been a huge preventive measure in terms of health and financial costs to the NHS.”

Simon Blake, chief executive of sexual health charity Brook, said: “It is a shame that the Government decided not to take the opportunity to also protect young women against viruses HPV 6 and 11, the types that cause genital warts.”

Gardasil manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis MSD highlighted that Gardasil is, or will be, used preferentially or exclusively for HPV vaccination campaigns in other countries, including the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The Department of Health said that it awarded the contract to GSK after an EU procurement exercise during which vaccines were examined against criteria such as scientific qualities and cost-effectiveness.

As part of the UK vaccination programme, Cervarix will be made available to girls aged 12–13 years from September and to girls up to 18 years in a two-year catch-up programme from September 2009. Vaccination programmes will be co-ordinated by the devolved administrations in England, Wales and Scotland.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10008206

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